Obama biggest recipient of BP money over past 20 years

posted at 2:20 pm on May 5, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

As the oil spill in the gulf continues to cast a shadow over the perceived competence of the Obama administration, two new reports will also stoke doubts about its cleanliness.  Erika Lovely writes today at Politico that Barack Obama has been the biggest recipient of British Petroleum largesse over the past 20 years, taking over $77,000 during his career from the oil company whose rig currently is dumping thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf a day (via Newsbusters):

While the BP oil geyser pumps millions of gallons of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama and members of Congress may have to answer for the millions in campaign contributions they’ve taken from the oil and gas giant over the years.

BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations come from a mix of employees and the company’s political action committees — $2.89 million flowed to campaigns from BP-related PACs and about $638,000 came from individuals.

On top of that, the oil giant has spent millions each year on lobbying — including $15.9 million last year alone — as it has tried to influence energy policy.

During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records.

What did BP get for its cash?  The Washington Post wonders the same thing, reporting on a waiver on a required environmental analysis for the very rig that blew:

The Interior Department exempted BP’s calamitous Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact analysis last year, according to government documents, after three reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was unlikely.

The decision by the department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) to give BP’s lease at Deepwater Horizon a “categorical exclusion” from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on April 6, 2009 — and BP’s lobbying efforts just 11 days before the explosion to expand those exemptions — show that neither federal regulators nor the company anticipated an accident of the scale of the one unfolding in the gulf. …

The MMS mandates that companies drilling in some areas identify under NEPA what could reduce a project’s environmental impact. But Interior Department spokesman Matt Lee-Ashley said the service grants between 250 and 400 waivers a year for Gulf of Mexico projects. He added that Interior has now established the “first ever” board to examine safety procedures for offshore drilling. It will report back within 30 days on BP’s oil spill and will conduct “a broader review of safety issues,” Lee-Ashley said.

BP’s exploration plan for Lease 206, which calls the prospect of an oil spill “unlikely,” stated that “no mitigation measures other than those required by regulation and BP policy will be employed to avoid, diminish or eliminate potential impacts on environmental resources.”

While the plan included a 13-page environmental impact analysis, it minimized the prospect of any serious damage associated with a spill, saying there would be only “sub-lethal” effects on fish and marine mammals, and “birds could become oiled. However it is unlikely that an accidental oil spill would occur from the proposed activities.”

Kierán Suckling, executive director of the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, said the federal waiver “put BP entirely in control” of the way it conducted its drilling.

Connections?  I’m sure this is just a coincidence.  Hope and change, baby!

On the other hand, it’s very possible for Republicans to overplay their hand on this issue.  While the temptation to expose Obama as nothing more than a Chicago pol willing to do the bidding of his donors will be sorely tempting, in this case it will end up damaging the effort to increase domestic production of oil.  As Ron Bailey wrote yesterday at Reason, everyone understands that drilling entails risk.  We need to minimize risks as much as we can, but we also need that oil and natural gas.  And if we don’t get it ourselves, others will get it first — and probably take less care than we do in drilling for it.


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They have safety mechanisms in place that should have prevented this. There are BOP’s (blow out protectors) and ESV’s (Emergency Shutdown Valves) that should have tripped. When hurricanes are moving in, they have the ability to shut down a well below the water line. I cannot understand why, even if the rig was completely destroyed and the pipeline buckled, that the valves below the water line did not shut.

TXMomof3 on May 5, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Try this for a start of an explanation
One thing to add to the story is a question I heard asked and then never heard again. Normally you let the fire burn until you can stop the source of fuel. Did the firefighting flood the floats that keep the platform afloat and cause it to sink? I am not familiar enough with the platforms to know if this is possible or not – anyone know?

Corsair on May 5, 2010 at 3:33 PM

If it hadn’t been for evil Republicans opposing him, Obama wouldn’t have NEEDED all that money, so he wouldn’t have had to sell out to the slightly-less-evil Big Oil companies.

Case closed.

logis on May 5, 2010 at 3:35 PM

Did I read this correctly? Am I missing something? BP got a waiver from the Obama Interior Dept. for a rig that caused the greatest environment disastor in the Gulf’s history? How isn’t this a massive scandal? Is it too early in the story? What if this had been the Bush administration? This is crazy.

rrpjr on May 5, 2010 at 3:08 PM

Elections have consequences.

And one of the consequences of the 2008 election that the idiots who stayed home to “teach the Republicans a lesson” were too dumb to figure out-the consequence of the 2008 election was that the Democrat Party now has an almost complete stranglehold on what Americans are “told”.

Hence, this won’t be mentioned at all, except for places like here.

Del Dolemonte on May 5, 2010 at 3:36 PM

maverick muse on May 5, 2010 at 3:30 PM

That her acolyte failed to follow her failed to hew true to her precepts, does not make the precepts less true.

Plus, whatever Greenspan’s failings by the time he ran the Fed we were already so far down the road she warned us about, that cataclysmic repercusions were all but inevitable.

Archimedes on May 5, 2010 at 3:37 PM

While the temptation to expose Obama as nothing more than a Chicago pol willing to do the bidding of his donors will be sorely tempting, in this case it will end up damaging the effort to increase domestic production of oil.

No problem. Go for the jugular, and drill, baby, drill.

Emperor Norton on May 5, 2010 at 3:38 PM

AnninCA on May 5, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Nowhere in your post do I see a single word expressing outrage or even disappointment over a President who criticized his predecessor for being in bed with big oil also being in bed with big oil himself.

Why is that?

Del Dolemonte on May 5, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Since the supreme court overruled the campaign finance laws maybe, just maybe the money going to candidates will be a reflection of corporate responsibility instead of corporate bribery.

fourdeucer on May 5, 2010 at 3:40 PM

Man, sorry ’bout all the typos today, yesterday was my bday and my hangover is extreme.

Archimedes on May 5, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Kierán Suckling, executive director of the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, said the federal waiver “put BP entirely in control” of the way it conducted its drilling.

With a name like that you have to be an Ecotard.

BL@KBIRD on May 5, 2010 at 3:41 PM

HARDENED CONCRETE! HUGE STONEHENGE SIZED BLOCKS. BOULDERS! ANYTHING! Hell it fixed the Levies didnt it? Of course dont sink wet concrete. good lord I hope your kidding.

johnnyU on May 5, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Regardless of BP global drilling locations, there’s no way in hell that BP or Obama can shut down all drilling in North America. Point being, CHINA et al. are drilling off Florida’s coast.

maverick muse on May 5, 2010 at 2:58 PM

What happens if a Chinese mishap spills oil all over the Florida coast? Imagine the foreign relations disaster that would be. The BP spill might conveniently give Obama the authority to insist that all foreign operations that can effect the US coastline be shut down along with the domestic operations. Hmmm…convenient for BP, too.

Buddahpundit on May 5, 2010 at 3:43 PM

Did the firefighting flood the floats that keep the platform afloat and cause it to sink? I am not familiar enough with the platforms to know if this is possible or not – anyone know?

Corsair on May 5, 2010 at 3:33 PM

No, it was a semi-submersible.

Vashta.Nerada on May 5, 2010 at 3:43 PM

This is all just a bunch of coincidences or something.

Akzed on May 5, 2010 at 3:46 PM

The only good thing out of this disaster is the BP found a whole lotta oil in the gulf, after all those years of the libs and eco nuts saying it wouldn’t be worth the chance of a disaster to drill off shore.

Kissmygrits on May 5, 2010 at 3:55 PM

Nowhere in your post do I see a single word expressing outrage or even disappointment over a President who criticized his predecessor for being in bed with big oil also being in bed with big oil himself.

Why is that?

Del Dolemonte on May 5, 2010 at 3:39 PM

I think this was a true accident.

Now, if investigations later prove that’s not the case, OK.

But I think it’s just an accident.

Nothing works perfectly in life.

AnninCA on May 5, 2010 at 4:16 PM

My understandings of what a “blowout” is and what happened in the Gulf are certainly incomplete and maybe incorrect. A blowout occurs in the pipe which is in the ground when the pressure in the pipe exceeds the pressure caused by the weight of the drill string and drilling mud and the drilling force applied by the drilling rig.

The reports from the Gulf indicate that there was an explosion on the drilling platform which was followed by the sinking of the platform. After that there were reports of oil leaking from three holes. Multiple holes suggests that the pipe near the soil surface was broken by bending of the pipe do to the sinking. It seems likely that the sequence of explosion on the surface, sinking of the platform and multiple leaks is more akin to a refinery explosion such as Texas City than the usual meaning of a blowout. If so, the accident should be treated as a surface event rather than something which is intrinsically associated with under ocean drilling.

burt on May 5, 2010 at 4:20 PM

Why does Teapot Dome come to mind?

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 5, 2010 at 4:23 PM

This is Obama’s Katrina.

Conservative Samizdat on May 5, 2010 at 4:45 PM

No, it was a semi-submersible.

Vashta.Nerada on May 5, 2010 at 3:43 PM

Thanks.

Corsair on May 5, 2010 at 4:50 PM

They are still looking into it. Apparently, the rig floor trips did not work.

Vashta.Nerada on May 5, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Can it break below the preventer and cutoff valves?

burt on May 5, 2010 at 4:51 PM

Can it break below the preventer and cutoff valves?

burt on May 5, 2010 at 4:51 PM

Normally, the BOP is right on the seabed,so it should not break below that. Given that the rig sank on top of the christmas tree and all, only those with access to the ROV video will know where the leaks are.

Vashta.Nerada on May 5, 2010 at 4:57 PM

Man, sorry ’bout all the typos today, yesterday was my bday and my hangover is extreme.

Archimedes on May 5, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Happy birthday.

Obama is dismal. Worst prez ever. Hands down. No contest.

justltl on May 5, 2010 at 4:59 PM

Vashta.Nerada on May 5, 2010 at 4:57 PM

My husband worked offshore and I worked for a field office at a gas plant. I don’t know if y’all have ever been near when they blow down a gas line, but the concussion and sound is unbelievable. When we would lose power to the plant, they would have to shut down, and they would send all the gas to the flare. I have seen a 150′ flare that had a screaming noise and shook our building, it could be seen for miles. I once asked which way to drive if there was catastrophic failure at the plant, one guy finally told me it didn’t matter, I wouldn’t make it to my truck.

TXMomof3 on May 5, 2010 at 5:03 PM

EVERYONE post this story on your facebook page. As many people as possible need to see it!!!

DethMetalCookieMonst on May 5, 2010 at 5:21 PM

The comparison is complicated by how much worse this event is for BP. Eleven people died. BP market shares have been pummeled. So long as the leak persists, the company loses 5,000–10,000 barrels a day.

BP will be responsible for cleanup costs far exceeding the federal limit of $75 million on liability for damages. The public relations nightmare will last for a decade or more. In the end, the costs could reach $100 billion, nearly wrecking the company and many other businesses.

It should be obvious that BP is by far the leading victim, but I’ve yet to see a single expression of sadness for the company and its losses. Indeed, the words of disgust for BP are beyond belief. The DailyKos sums it up: “BP: Go f*** yourselves.” Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said that the government intended to keep “its boot on BP’s neck.”

How about reality? The incident is a tragedy for BP and all the subcontractors involved. It will probably wreck the company, a company that has long provided the fuel that runs our cars, runs our industries, and keeps alive the very body of modern life. The idea that BP should be hated and denounced is preposterous; there is every reason to express great sadness for what has happened.

It is not as if BP profits by oil leaks, or that anyone reveled in the chance to dump its precious oil all over the ocean. BP gains nothing from this. Its own CEO has worked for years to try to prevent precisely this kind of accident from occurring, and done so not out of the desire to comply with regulations, but just because it is good business practice.

In contrast to those who are weeping, we might ask who is happy about the disaster:

1. the environmentalists, with their fear mongering and hatred of modern life, and
2. the government, which treats every capitalist producer as a bird to be plucked.

Feel Sorry for BP? – Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. – Mises Institute

maverick muse on May 5, 2010 at 5:34 PM

Obama received $750,000,000 in contributions for his Presidential campaign alone, according to OpenSecrets.org, while according to this post his lifetime contributions from BP have been $77,000. It seems good for Americans of the right to set aside the argument that Obama was bought by contributions amounting to 1% of 1% of his Presidential campaign contributions, and to stick to their many other, much more persuasive arguments against him.

Kralizec on May 5, 2010 at 5:38 PM

I think it’s just an accident.

Nothing works perfectly in life.

THAT’S convenience and comfort, head in sand. As if choosing ignorance makes bliss. There was NO INDICATION WHATSOEVER, despite all the properly functioning redundant warning systems.

maverick muse on May 5, 2010 at 5:40 PM

Kralizec on May 5, 2010 at 5:38 PM

As if any figures released during this administration are accurate beyond functional whole cloth.

maverick muse on May 5, 2010 at 5:41 PM

Another explosion from an unloading truck at a filtering plant outside San Antonio this afternoon. Which company?

maverick muse on May 5, 2010 at 5:43 PM

The Grifter in Chief

justltl on May 5, 2010 at 6:21 PM

I think this was a true accident.

Now, if investigations later prove that’s not the case, OK.

But I think it’s just an accident.

Nothing works perfectly in life.

AnninCA on May 5, 2010 at 4:16 PM

I’m curious how you decide what is “a true accident”. How much of your belief system is tied to that decision?

Squiggy on May 6, 2010 at 6:42 AM

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